So I picked up a copy of Boston Globe writer Emily Sweeney's Boston Organized Crime last night (her release bash was at the very fitting speakeasy-esque Stoddard's), and have been ogling the damn thing ever since. I'm a junkie for gangland stories and mob culture, and this project packs pages and pages of pics and plots that I simply had no clue about. As a native New Yorker, I've always felt that too much attention is cast on a few usual suspects - Gotti, Bonanno, Gambino, and so forth. Thumbing through Sweeney's work, it seems that's the case up here too. The underworld is much wider than just Whitey.
In line with other books in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series - many of which illustrate various slices of Bay State history - Boston Organized Crime showcases vivid and hard-to-find shots fit to hurtle readers back in time, and in this case also gives enough context to navigate the blood-stained era from Prohibition through the '80's. Sweeney issues a disclaimer that hers is not an exhaustive account of all things Boston area mob-related, but there's a long and tough cast of character cameos here, from James Michael Curley's loan shark buddies Harry "Doc" Sagansky and Moe Weinstein, to Winter Hill wiseguy Alexander Petricone, who fled the ruthless gang wars of the early 1960s and moved to Hollywood, where he went on to star in The Godfather among other films.
The book also has goods on street legends like Joseph "The Animal" Barbozo (above), who's widely believed to be the first hood in America to enter the witness protection program, and Charles "King" Solomon, a ruthless bootlegger and nightclub owner who
met his demise at the Cotton Club on Tremont Street in 1933. Between them and a slew of wild dudes with nicknames like Hoodsie, Little Beans, and Wimpy, Boston Organized Crime puts a bright spotlight on the murderous degenerates who once ran the region. As the author notes, this shit isn't to be taken lightly - a lot of these guys were gunned down in their early 20s, and the collateral damage of their actions was immense. With that said, there's hardly a more fascinating theater in modern New England history than that of its baddest motherfuckers.